FBI accuses North Korean hackers for $100M crypto theft

The FBI confirmed on Monday that North Korean-sponsored hackers known as the Lazarus Group were behind the theft of $100 million worth of cryptocurrency from California-based crypto firm Harmony.

Last year, Harmony reported that unknown hackers stole money from one of its blockchain bridges and that it was working with law enforcement and forensic specialists to identify the perpetrators and retrieve the stolen funds. The company said at the time that it had attempted to reach out to the hackers with an embedded message sent to the culprit’s crypto wallet address.

Harmony’s hack was one of several crypto thefts that occurred last year. Just two months after Harmony was hacked, it was reported that another crypto firm based in California — Nomad — had lost $190 million worth of virtual currency in a series of thefts. 

Nomad said at the time that it was “aware of the incident” and was investigating the matter. 

“Our goal is to identify the accounts involved and to trace and recover the funds,” the firm said.

Last year, the FBI also blamed the Lazarus Group of stealing about $620 million in cryptocurrency from the virtual game Axie Infinity. The U.S. sanctioned the group in 2019. 

Over the last couple years, North Korean-state sponsored hackers have ramped up their thefts against the cryptocurrency industry, which have worried U.S. officials who fear the stolen money is being used to fund North Korea’s nuclear weapons. 

Anne Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, said last year that she was “concerned about North Korea’s cyber capabilities,” adding that the country uses “up to a third of [stolen crypto] funds to fund their missile program.”

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